I am autistic and, when I was a teenager (10 years ago), I had always heard that it was "rude" to break up with someone over text. However, I never understood why.

What's wrong with communicating by writing? Is it just that you would be deemed a coward? But if so, how is it rude to be a coward?

2 Answers 2


I've never had to do it the way you mention it, nor would have had chosen to do it that way, but it's a question of culture and education, and we all receive different tips on how to behave with others, and feel differently when it comes to interact with others. This is just to say that I don't condemn what you say/think, I just say it's not what the etiquette or what many people recommend. And it's linked to the people's psychology and their way to deal with emotions.

We don't face truth, pain, sadness, joy, or reality, any kind of emotion, the same way. Most people, though, are hurt when a relationship ends. It seems important, then, to follow some "social" and "emotional" rules. Here are some useful links about that : How best to minimize the pain in a painful situation 1 and How to end a relationship the right way 2 - 3 - 4 - 5. It's not like you mentioned ("being a coward"), but rather about trying to minimize the pain you (may) inflict to the other person.

There are many reasons why you would chose not to do it over a message, but rather face to face. There are also a handful of ressources over the internet about that and a quick search will provide you with more links and data than what I gave you above. The important question is whether or not you want to soften the pain.

[2] In any breakup situation, the most important thing to remember is to be kind and compassionate. [1] Break up in person. It’s essential to be physically present to show that the relationship was important to you. Breakups by text may be common these days, but they hurt terribly and leave confusion in their wake.

You can't easily do that over text or email, as emotions and feelings aren't clearly identified or can be missed or misinterpreted, as explained here by Berkeley graduate Tchiki Davis : Reading Emotions in Text Messages.

Text messaging can breed disastrous misunderstandings between people.

When you have read about the topic, you can make a more informed choice I believe.

FWIW : I've done many mistakes in the past (I was then much younger) when it came to deal with such situations (at work or with acquaintances, but never with a GF/friend), and I've been the "coward". I now feel much better when I face people and tell them what I have to. In any situation. My advice would then be to do it in person.

#3 - relationships end for a wide variety of reasons. Conflict is one common reason, but sometimes it involves other reasons that mean ending a relationship with someone you still care about. When this happens, you have to learn how to break up with someone you love

#4 - ending a relationship is one of the most difficult things we have to do. No matter where you are in the breakup process, knowing how to break up well (including how to break up with someone you love) can help make this transition smoother and less harmful for both partners.

#5 - if you've ever been dumped by text or email (or if you've been ghosted altogether), you know how it feels to be given so little consideration that the other person didn't even bother to tell you in person. Why do the same to another person?


Many people, including me and the people I grew up with, rank the sorts of things you might communicate with another person about on a scale of seriousness or importance. So for example breaking up with someone or asking them to marry you is more serious than wishing them happy birthday, which in turn is more important than "good morning! I really enjoyed dinner with you yesterday" and which in turn is more important than "what was the name of that thing I asked you to remind you about?" or "do we have enough potatoes at home for me to make shepherds pie tonight?"

We then also rank ways of communicating - in person, over the phone, by email, by chat app - according to how appropriate they are for various "importance level" or "seriousness level" of communication. Different people will have slightly different versions of each of these scales. One might be slightly hurt by "Happy Birthday" over chat, feeling that it deserves a voice call. Another might be perfectly happy with the text for that.

Probably most people agree on certain overlapping ranges of these scales: the data point you were taught (and can find in any article about "the right way" to break up) is that pretty well everyone feels something as serious as breaking up with a person should not be done with a one-way, no-tone-of-voice, no-visuals low information communication like a text. The target of the breakup will wonder "is Ael angry, and angrily breaking up with me?" or possibly sad, or happy about the better opportunities you have found, or whatever. They will wonder "is there a touch of wistfulness and wishing the breakup could have been avoided?" -- but if all they have is a short written message like "I don't want to see you any more" they have no clues. And they probably don't feel they can ask for more information, since you chose this low-information mechanism for the conversation.

That's why it's rude. Because it doesn't allow for the communication preferences of the other person, how important this will be to the other person, and how your choice of mechanism would make this more difficult for the other person.

  • 3
    Please take a look again at the citation expectations. You make a lot of claims in this answer, but aren't offering backup according to the citation expectations.
    – Tinkeringbell
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 19:12
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    @Tinkeringbell I was considering a similar answer to this one. My answer would have been that (at least for people of my older generation) chat is used for lower importance things that don't require much text, e.g. "I'm at the store. Do we need milk?". Texting a breakup message implies that the texter doesn't place much importance on the relationship. So for what it's worth, I "back up" this answer.
    – DaveG
    Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 20:15
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    @Dave : I think I covered it in a similar way with the following citation "Break up in person. It’s essential to be physically present to show that the relationship was important to you.". I agree with you as older folks like us are more willing to use short text messages for less important things though...
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 22:19

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